FlightAware A Global Force

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In 2005, a group of flying buddies in Houston created a website that used data from FAA flight plans to allow real-time tracking of aircraft in flight. Twelve years later, FlightAware is the busiest aviation website and will soon have much better flight tracking capabilities than the air traffic control system. “It’s really been a lot of fun,” said CEO Daniel Baker at a news conference at NBAA in Las Vegas. Baker has guided the development of the company from a rudimentary tool to predict aircraft arrival times to a global platform offering minute-by-minute tracking of every ADS-B-equipped aircraft in the air anywhere in the world. The company announced new features at NBAA, including playback of completed flights and a new ability to track aircraft on the ground.

FlightAware has a deal with Aireon, a Nav Canada-funded company, that will offer satellite-based air traffic control data services. Baker said Nav Canada will look after providing services to air navigation service providers all over the world and FlightAware will look after the myriad services available to airlines, business aircraft and commercial operators. The system will be carried on a new Iridium constellation of 66 satellites that will cover every square inch of the earth’s surface by 2018. SpaceX successfully launched another 10 of those satellites on Monday bringing the total in orbit to 30. While satellite tracking will be an important element to the overall FlightAware product line, the heart of the system is a $65 device the company sends to FBOs, airport operators and even private citizens all over the world. The little box and antenna collects ADS-B data from all aircraft in line of sight from up to 250 miles away and the data is sent to a central processing center that creates the images on the website.

Comments (4)

Why does everyone celebrate this? I'd like to see someone develop something like this for cars, with license plates tied to home addresses, and watch everyone suddenly flip their lids over it.

Posted by: Robert Gatlin-Martin | October 10, 2017 2:03 PM    Report this comment

Agreed, this is not a good thing. I am not paranoid (nor even single noid), but that doesn't mean I want everyone everywhere to know where I am going on every flight. This is one reason that I am waiting until the very last second to add ADS-B out equipment. I need to know where another aircraft is in flight (Mk 1 eyeball), but I don't need to know WHO he is.

If a $65 device can find and transmit this data, hopefully someone will come up with a $$50 box that will block that transmission.

Posted by: Steve Rush | October 10, 2017 4:17 PM    Report this comment

Privacy is gone with ADS-B, your position and ID is transmitted for all to see. I love the ones with a switch to make the box stop transmitting the N number.

Posted by: bruce postlethwait | October 10, 2017 6:26 PM    Report this comment

I understand the desire to have a GPS-derived position for everything flying in controlled airspace. I do NOT see why that requires my name and home address.

Furthermore, that information should NOT be readily available by querying my tail number in an FAA online database. As RG-M noted, I can't look up the license plate of the tweet-iot that cut me off in traffic and drop by his house.

It took the Equifax debacle for a Congress-critter to suggest that maybe we should replace the Social Security Number with an encrypted hash. Many of us in the IT field have been warning about that open barn door for decades. That demonstrates that, like FAA regs, nothing gets fixed until enough people die. Hell, my original Airman Certificate number WAS my Social Security number.

Furthermore, there is NO case that can be made for requiring (as the ADS-B reg does) that my tail number be broadcast from my aircraft _at_all_times_ regardless of where I am.

DOT/FAA will need to do two things before I will consider equipping with ADS-B/out:
1. Apply HIPPA-level security to my FAA data.
2. Make ADS-B/out required _only_ when operating in controlled airspace.

And while we are fixing egregious affronts,lower the airspace-grab over class B&C airports to 4000agl. Unless ATC intends to circle airliners all the way up to 10,000ft, there is no reason to prevent non-ADS-B/out aircraft from overflight.

Until that happens, controllers are going to see me squawking 1200 and maintaining a WAAS-precise 1000 foot lateral clearance of their airspace.

Posted by: Chip Davis | October 11, 2017 1:07 PM    Report this comment

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